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OpEd: The Case for a North College Park Farmer’s Market

Kimberly A. Schumann and The Hawker

[Kimberly Schumann lives in Hollywood neighborhood of north College Park and is the editor of the online blogsite The Hawker, where she helps others about the ideas of the crafts and farmer’s market circuit in the MD/DC/VA area. After she came across my last week’s post on farmer’s market in north College Park, she wrote this piece on her blog]

This is Kimberly Schumann of Niagara Rd. My neighbor forwarded me yesterday’s newsletter concerning the addition of a farmer’s market here in North College Park. I used to work the farmer’s/crafts market circuit, and now run The Hawker, a company devoted to helping connect the vendors and customers, and to further the development of such markets. I’ve worked at and have visited, many, many markets in various states. I’d very much like to have involvement in the development of a North College Park Market, and wanted to share my ideas about a market here.

I outlined the pros and cons of the two mentioned locations (MOM/REI vs. Duvall Field). In conclusion, I feel that the MOM/REI location would be a boon for local businesses, be most convenient for the customers and the vendors based on the parking/traffic situation, and that most people have to go to those businesses for their normal shopping routine.

MOM/REI
-7-11 has at ATM machine
-Already good foot traffic, so instant visibility for the market
-Sufficient parking
-Sufficient vendor space
-Roads here, especially with the new stop and walk lights, can better accomodate the increased car traffic
-Can cross sponsor events with the existing businesses
-The tree covered area over by the REI could be really nice for vendors
-There is restroom availability at MOM and REI
-Power and water availability via the state building and the local businesses
-Access to all the local businesses, such as the laundromat, the grocer, beauty parlors, restuarants…
-Nearby playground and basketball courts

Duvall Field
-Poor parking situation for vendors and customers.
-Farmers will have to park on the west side of the field, and therefore have to walk their equipment and goods around the fence, or throw their stuff over the fence. Farmers need to be able to park their truck right next to their stall area.
-It will destroy the grass
-NO ONE will attend if it’s raining due to the mud situation
-Markets will have to be coordinated with leagues concerning games, etc.
-Restroom, and hose water access through the vending building
-Playground

A market here in North College Park would help alleviate the added traffic heading downtown for the markets. I’ve only visited the Downtown markets a small handful of times because traffic down that way is a nightmare, and I haven’t been impressed with the selection of the vendors. Much of it obviously isn’t locally grown. I attend the Greenbelt Farmer’s market (Sunday Morning in Old Greenbelt), and sometimes the Riverdale Park Farmer’s Market (Thursday Afternoons) if I’m in the area. Like you’ve mentioned, for those of us who do not attend the markets at all due to traffic, etc, this would be great. It would also pull customers from Beltsville. There’s the George Washington Carver Market on Wednesdays, but that one basically serves the center’s lunch crowd. They do not get much outside foot traffic.

I love the concept of “resident farmers,” as I know a handful of them who would love to be able to sell their produce, but don’t have easy access to our other local markets.

I mentioned the idea of cross sponsoring events between the businesses. For example:
-MOM and the Market: A cooking/educational series. MOM already performs cooking demonstrations, has tire inflating events, etc.
-Mighty Healthy Pet has adoption events that are restricted in the store. This would allow them to have larger adoption events and provide them with much needed visibility.

Personally, I would like to see crafters and prepared food vendors at the market. This would also be an excellent gateway for special holiday markets (ie. gift centric holidays). There are many local crafters who are trying to break into the market circuit, and it’s very difficult. More markets help support our community and local economy. The Fenton Street Market in Silver Spring is an excellent example of markets directly injecting money into local businesses and providing crafters with a venue to sell their handmade wares. These markets help support people’s livelihood and dreams.

A excerpt from an article about the Fenton Street Market:
Market supporters say it benefits the local economy, drawing about 72,500 people annually and generating $1.9 million in annual revenue for neighboring businesses, according to a study commissioned by the market.

College Park is a growing and thriving community, and the addition of a Farmer’s Market here in North College Park would help both residents, vendors, and local businesses. I’d like to participate in any way that I can.

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